I live in a small town. Not much happens in this small town. It’s usually pretty quiet. Any violent incidents are rare. And that’s why we live here. I used to live in Toronto many years ago – before I met my husband and had children – and had a promising career there in broadcasting. I worked for a national broadcaster, at a TV station. I was working my way up, and at the end of my time there I was the “back-up” Queen’s Park Producer, a production coordinator, and a technical operator. But I did not enjoy living in the city. Of course there were times it was great. Many of my friends from university live there, there’s always a new restaurant to try out, stores are open at all hours so if you need something desperately you can get it right away, and there is always something to do. However, I grew up in a small town. And though when I was a teenager all I wanted to do was get out of that small town (I thought I was plenty sophisticated enough to be in the big city!), I missed the environment. So after almost 2 1/2 years at this television station, with a promising career ahead of me, I decided to quit, go to teachers college, and try to get a job in a small town. And that’s just what happened. Not long after I met my now-husband, got married, and had kids. Until earlier this week I have felt incredibly safe here. Sure I’m paranoid, and so I lock all of my doors even if I’m at home – which is rare around here apparently – but I haven’t feared for my safety or the safety of my family. That changed on Monday night.
It was a windy night. So windy that the power was knocked out in the late afternoon. I was supposed to take my daughter and son out of town for my son’s Tae Kwon Do lesson, and my husband had a Parent Council meeting. We decided the kids and I would stay home instead, in case branches were being blown down and around. We thought staying home would be safer than being out on the road. So hubby left, and my kids and I were just spending time in our living room with candles and flashlights. About 40 minutes after my husband left, I received a text message from my aunt. Here’s what it said: “Not sure about this info but Ken’s Dianne said to lock your doors as someone is running around [your town] with a gun. I tried phoning you.” Without power our phones weren’t working. And then this one from my boss: “[Another man from work] just posted on FB cops with guns came to his door and told him to lock it, don’t answer it and turn his lights out until told by them that it’s ok…Can u call Scott and tell him to get home?” I’ve always thought I was a relatively tough cookie, but this freaked me out COMPLETELY. I should have kept it together a bit more maybe…you know, for the kids. Not that I started panicking or anything, but I did hurriedly close curtains, herd the kids to a room with no windows in our basement – which was difficult because our house is multi-levelled and so much of the basement is partly above ground with lots of windows and light – and told them I needed to get Daddy home immediately. I was shaking too, and when I get stressed I tend to start scratching my legs and neck. I just kept thinking, “I hope someone doesn’t try to break in. What can I hit him with??” Anyway, after an alarming text to my husband he came home and we hunkered down. It was strange with the hydro out too, because it was like in horror movies when the killer cuts the power so it’s dark and spooky! My husband freaked me out even more because every time the kids or I used the flashlights, he’d get upset, worried about someone seeing the light. It was a bizarre few hours. And then, at my insistence because the kids were scared and they COULD NOT keep quiet (go figure, a 7 year old and a 3 year old not being able to keep quiet!), we left town. There were a few streets on lockdown, with police cars blocking the roads and SWAT teams in people’s backyards and front lawns, but we were able to get out. We drove to a place where I always feel safe: my parents’ house. Yes, I drove to feel safe with my mom and dad! At 40 years of age! Well, it was more about having a warm home, separate beds for us to sleep in, lights, and NO PEOPLE WITH GUNS RUNNING AROUND!
Thankfully the police caught one of the two people they were looking for, later that night, and then the other person – who got away that night – was caught in a nearby town a day and a half later. It made me breathe a sigh of relief when I heard that. And realize how lucky I am to live in a town where I feel safe almost all of the time.